Moeen Ali says England are determined to cap their white-ball revolution with the World Cup trophy as he prepares to win a 100th ODI cap on Friday.
A late-innings thrash of 31 in nine balls contributed to England’s record-breaking performance against Afghanistan as Moeen returned to the side in the same week he celebrated his birthday.
Should he keep his place against Sri Lanka at Headingley, the popular all-rounder will become the 22nd Englishman to rack up a century of appearances in the 50-over format, and his time in the side has coincided with the thrilling change of approach under Eoin Morgan’s captaincy.
The ODI game as a whole may have changed beyond recognition, but England have been at the frontier under Morgan, their record number of maximums against Afghanistan a neat illustration of how far the Dubliner has led his players since the ignominy of their 2015 campaign: the total of 25 sixes was three more than England had previously managed in any entire World Cup.
The ultimate aim, of course, is silverware, and on the eve of the Sri Lanka game Moeen said, “That improvement, everybody knows, and we have been talking about it for a while now, but as a team we know that a trophy matters for us and hopefully this is it.
“It obviously means a lot, to play 100 ODI games for England. I never, ever thought in my wildest dreams that I would get close to it.
“It’s an amazing feeling to see the team we are now. If I was to retire I’d always be able to say I was part of that change, the whole mindset changing and the great cricket we’ve played.”
Sri Lanka go into the game with just one win, but two of their fixtures have been rained off and Moeen is wary of the “big threat” in evidence in defeat to Australia, a match in which openers Dimuth Karanuratne and Kusal Perera briefly promised to inspire a memorable run chase.
The problem has come further down the order, with the likes of Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera yet to make the kind of telling contribution of which they are capable.
Skipper Karanuratne said, “They have lots of talent and, you know, they did really good things for Sri Lanka in the recent past and I think the only thing we need to do now is come up with a good mindset.”